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So this could go under both staff and membership and I want to see how people feel about it from both sides and how they deal with it from both sides.

 

I would first like to express I'm not a victim person. I say that to make it clear that I don't cry wolf every time my feelings get hurt or I'm offended by someone because I'm a grown woman. I know how to deal with my problems. If I need help I seek it out from trusted family and friends and if I really want to deal with something specific to a roleplay I'll reach out to a staff member on the site in question.

 

I feel this is important because this is how I'm an actual victim of something that few people recognize.

 

Reverse-bullying.

 

What is reverse bullying you say? Well, what I feel is reverse bullying is, is this:

A person that claims they are being harassed or victimized at all times.

 

Now there is a very real possibility that said person is trying to bully the person but I've found, especially with my larger than life personality, that it's more likely that I disagree with the person or they disagree with me. Now don't get me wrong. I have a personality (particularly while drunk) to not listen to what anyone says. You can ask people like @VirusZero @Amelia or anyone else that has been in a chat with me while I'm drinking. I'm a pushy woman when motivated or passionate. I can see how my gusto (drunkedness) can be misinterpreted as bullying. I don't let people talk. I also talk in circles and tell people the same story 30 times too (if you were curious) but that seems to be ignored.

 

Now to get back on topic. Because of these misunderstandings I've been accused many a times of bullying. If I do happen to remember what I was pushy/passionate/drunk talking about I normally remember the beginning of the conversation but if I have any history (and I wasn't direct talking) then I can normally get all the pieces into place and figure out what happened and explain my side of the story to explain what happened from my perspective.

 

I don't, however, always get the chance.

 

With the real thing of cyber bullying out there everyone is afraid of anything with the word bullying or harassment in it. They immediately jump to the side of the "victim" and onto the back of the "bully" without collecting all of the facts. People do this because they don't want to be accused of allowing cyber bullying. What I've found is that most people don't realize is that they are a culprit of reverse bullying.

 

Now to explain, if you cried victim about an account on Facebook (mind you I've never done this but I've read through articles of people who have and their actual process) they don't automatically just go to that persons account and BAN them or even send them a message about ABUSE. They investigate it where they can. They access records, logs and determine whether the accuser has a right to accuse said person of whatever they are accused of. However someone claiming to be harassed on a roleplay immediately gets the smite of the staff or of the members that are told that someone is bullying them. We jump to conclusions based off of half of the information.

 

HELL! We read passive aggressive tones in text when there often isn't any.

 

That being said I know, at least the fabulous members of the initiative, are smarter than that. Or at least I hope you are empowered enough to know not to take things at face value (particularly on the Internet). I do know that the threat of "allowing cyber bullying" is terrifying. However, how do you personally deal with a situation that arises that someone states that they are being bullied or harassed?

 

Do you really take the time to investigate and find out the legitimacy of the claim or do you just take the word of the person making the claim and go down that path of getting the person off your site?

 

Do you even realize that people can be reverse bullied by those that "cry wolf"? (I mean while @Rune has a website there is a legitimate story about people that tell lies to get attention)

 

Have you ever taken the time to listen to both sides of the story?

 

I'm going to end this off here and explain that I've been reverse bullied off of a lot of sites because I have opinions that don't often align with many roleplayers but I also have been reverse bullied off of site because my strong, larger than life personality has been confused with being overbearing and insensitive. I understand I'm the type of person that is difficult to deal with sometimes but sometimes I need that conflict to remind me that I don't hold the monopoly on opinions. That I need to hear the other side. It doesn't mean that I will change mine or I expect the other person to change their opinion but the reminder that I'm human is awesome. (Even though I have a little bit of fangs now).

 

Just because I don't always want to listen to your opinion because we disagree (I'm a big perpetuator of the la la la I can't hear you or the talk louder so you can't talk method) doesn't mean that I don't think that you're not allowed to have an opinion. If you don't like that I'm doing one of those things hang up on me and we can chat about it a different day when I'm less passionate about it, or never again if you would prefer. However it doesn't mean that I'm bullying or harassing you to agree with me either.

 

Be you. Let me be me. Don't make it more than it is.

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I agree with you, Morrighan. It makes you feel that you never count, just the other does. I think judging the INTENTION behind the words (which words can be interpreted in several ways anyway) is what matters the most, and what makes the difference between being a victim/ bully or not.

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This, unfortunately has become a problem I see quite often on the internet these days, and is usually either:

 

A tactic that SJWs use to smear people's names who don't agree with their politics

Or a tactic that a real bully uses when they've been caught bullying and tries to cover up the fact.

 

To be quite frank, I dislike it when it's used in both situations. A person is NOT a bully if they don't have the same political opinion has another person. People can agree with some points of politics that another person has, but not others and not be a bully. A bully in this sense is only really a bully if they threaten and name call a person that they don't agree with. Sadly, I think SJWs act like this because it's how, as a society, people have been taught to attack anyone who is 'deemed to be different' and forget or push aside their humanity.  It disinclines me to be sympathetic with or trust people of certain communities and I am very weary of interacting with people because of this when, in the beginning, before I saw this was a common thing, I'd be friendly towards, or accepting of those people.

 

The second one is obvious to spot and sometimes even a bully's friend will speak out in defense of the bully and say 'the bully is being harassed...' when the victim is either expressing their disgust at the situation or just defending themselves from the bullying.

 

Do you really take the time to investigate and find out the legitimacy of the claim or do you just take the word of the person making the claim and go down that path of getting the person off your site?

 

I don't know what happens so much in forums (though I have read of or seen people attempt to use c-boxes to bully or begin drama,) but I have seen this happen a lot on twitter. It usually happens like this - someone retweets or makes a tweet that so and so is harassing so and so... What I started doing to investigate it, I'd go on the profiles of both people and see what they tweeted. Quite a lot of the time, I couldn't make head nor tail of who was the original instigator or who was more to blame than the other. If I looked back and saw harassment or unpleasant language being a common thing on a profile, I'd block them (sometimes, I'd block both if I thought that they were as bad as each other.)

 

I noticed that one or two people who I used to rp with would often bring attention to situations like I described above, or would often get into fights with people themselves. One of them would also occasionally post hurtful or derogatory things about how people create original characters, etc. This happening once or twice wouldn't be a problem but if you looked back at their behaviour over a period of months or even years, you'd find that this call out behaviour/getting into fights behaviour/claiming that people are harassing/stalking them started to have a pattern to it and I think that reveals that they are bullies. (The trouble is, you have to notice this over a long period of time to see the pattern and by then the damage is already done and if you're one of the people who's been one of their targets, your reputation is ruined by then.) The most annoying thing though is that people don't always seem to notice how bad they are and still stay friends with them.

 

I also noticed that one person would often flame people occ if their character did something that another person's character reacted badly to. Because it happened on a frequent basis, it became apparent to me that it was done on purpose, or to 'cry wolf.'

 

The only time I recall seeing legit bullying and harassment on twitter (where the victim really was a victim) was when this rper started having a go at another rper and then started creating accounts to harass them when their old one was suspended. I call it legit because of how targeted it was and the fact that it was sustained for a while shows that it was. Most of the other times when an incident has occurred, there's either been a misunderstanding or a person just likes to draw attention to things/get into drama. (Those people I've described I think just like drama, and if they can't get entertainment from watching it, they'll create it.)

 

One other thing to be aware of with people who 'cry wolf' is that there is a problem with people creating multiple accounts and then using one of the accounts to bully themselves. I looked into that because the amount of 'bullying' and drama incidents which one of the people involved in seemed to be pretty high to me and I know from my own experiences that I'd become reluctant to be on twitter if I'd had the same amount of problems that they had, but they've never seemed to cut down on their twitter usage. I think that's something admins should be aware of. (Although I suspect that person does that, I don't know for sure because their ip address can't be checked.)

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Without evidence and a full picture of what's going on, I don't think you can judge whether someone is truly being bullied or not. If someone feels like they're being bullied, who am I to say they're not? If they feel victimized, it's not my place to tell them they're not or to quantify their experience. The only thing I can do (as staff, a member, or a friend) is try to clear up the miscommunication.

 

The amount of miscommunication on the internet is really astounding when you think about it. We use it so casually to voice our opinions and there's definitely our intended message that we're trying to get out there, but we really have no way of predicting how others are going to take what we say. I'm like you, @Morrigan, in that my drunk personality is big and opinionated. And when I'm in the cbox or just chatting with friends online, I say one thing, meaning it a certain way, and someone else takes it completely different and I get misconstrued as a bully. I always try to clear the air though, and usually end up agreeing to disagree and moving on.

 

I also have several ESL friends, and a few that fall on the autistic spectrum, that don't quite understand the tone of their writing and it can often be misconstrued as bullying. They're very harsh in their opinions and decisions in writing, and people that don't know them very well can very well feel victimized by them. Because I've been writing with them for a long time, though, I know this is not intentional and I often act as a mediator to soften things for them. It's more about knowing your audience and this sort of thing can be really difficult when you're new to a community, too.

 

Which is why I think that every online bullying situation should be well documented and reviewed. Not to say "yes you are being bullied" or "no, you're just seeking attention." Because I don't know what you're feeling and am not going to play a role in your victimization. But to provide an impartial third party point of view on the situation as a mediator. As staff, that's always my approach. I'll never jump onto one side or the other, but will always try to be impartial and clear up the misunderstanding. But if I see that someone is actually being bullied, the situation changes. But I always go into it thinking everyone is innocent until proven guilty. And whatever the result, people are free to stay or leave as they need to (unless there's an outright, explicit case of bullying, then there's no tolerance).

 

In the case of someone crying wolf, though, that's not what I would classify as "reverse bullying." That's just straight up bullying. There's no miscommunication and no actual victimization, but someone with malicious intent is trying to manipulate people against someone. Those people who actually seek that kind of drama out are bully's themselves.

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To me, a Bully is a Bully is a Bully, regardless of whether your "punching up" or "punching down".

 

As a staff, I try to collect any and all evidence available/given to me, conduct interviews with both parties (and sometimes witnesses), and then review with the rest of my staff if there's an action that needs to be taken. Most of the time an unofficial Peer mediation has worked - about 1/3 of the time I've had to give some stern warnings to one or both parties, and only once have I had to tell somebody to leave or we'll do it for them.

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Nice topic.

 

One of the things I’ve learned over the years is to make sure that I take care in saying the things I say.  Unfortunately, I’ve said some things that some people have construed to be mean, petty, or bigoted.  My eager personality is interpreted as being pushy and dominating.  My enthusiasm gets read as demanding.  It’s been a challenge navigating the RP world because we so often rely on words for communication, and yet we can’t rely upon them to really understand each other.

 

There are two sides to everything, and just because I don’t mean to come across a certain way doesn’t mean that the other person’s interpretations are invalid.  I know someone IRL who was very passionate about the things she did and believed in, but it came across to the rest of us as anger and frustration that was often taken out on other people.  There is a balance to it, though; she is allowed to be passionate about what she feels strongly about, and the rest of us are allowed to have a place free from what we interpreted as “anger.”  Ultimately someone confronted her about it and explained the situation to her, and she worked on it and is much better about it now.

 

That’s what ideally should happen in the roleplay world.  If you have a problem, politely confront the person and speak with them about it.  But, like the mentioned woman, the listener needs to have an open mind and be willing to change.  Unfortunately this is an ideal situation and will rarely be replicated on forums because most people just aren’t able to take constructive criticism, especially when they didn’t ask for it.

 

As an admin, I’ve made mistakes in trying to sort out challenging “he said, she said” situations.  On some, I have gotten after people for things that were, ultimately, interpreted incorrectly by me.  As I learned, I spent more time sifting through information and trying to dig into the meat of problems in order to understand it.  I had so much chaos and confrontation on my Hunger Games board due to the competitive nature of the RP, and I quickly learned that I couldn’t just take one person’s word because it was only part of a much larger story.  I’d like to say that I’m better at handling these sorts of “bully” situations because of that, though I can see how it’s daunting and tiresome for administrators to take time out of their busy schedules in order to figure out who’s right and who’s wrong, often without any clear distinction.

 

And that’s part of the problem.  We are only amateurs.  Most of us have no real qualifications when it comes to handling bullies and similar situations, so we try to do our best.  For some people, it means that they automatically side with the so-called victim because, in a way, that’s what society tells us to do.  It’s not appropriate in all situations, of course, and sometimes people are too pigheaded to see that the victim isn’t always innocent.  If you have a sibling, you know how it goes: your sibling annoys you and annoys you and annoys you, and you finally slap ‘em in the head, and who gets caught?  You, the “bully,” who isn’t really a bully, per se, but someone who finally decided to do something—albeit not the right way—about a troublesome situation.  Neither party was 100% guilty or 100% innocent, and that’s how these situations often are.

 

As a member, I’ve gotten myself into many situations because I can’t read people’s intent and I walk into traps, or I say things that are stupid, or, well, I’m just learning and I mess up.  Most of the time, I’m not 100% innocent, and I’m not 100% guilty.  But it turns into a cluster, and people are left pointing their fingers at me and calling me names for being an asshole.  I’ve had people tell me all sorts of awful things, shun me, make rules up specifically to exclude me, hold grudges against me for literal years (while still “politely” RPing with me), show me inappropriate unwanted visual images, spew vile sexually-explicit garbage at me, etc.  Fortunately over the years, I’ve been able to recognize some of the warning signs of being around a “bad” person, and I try my hardest to stay away and not get roped into some of the situations that will lead them to telling me that I was a bully.

 

Sometimes you have people who are just bad people who want to make you look bad, so they try to screw you up.  Sometimes you’re RPing with people who are so mentally unbalanced that they really, 100% believe that they’re a victim in a situation when they’re not.  But most of the time, I think it’s a matter of perspective.  Your “gusto” can be read by other people as rudeness, and my “eagerness” can be read as pushiness.

 

To understand why someone might side with the victim without assessing the full situation, remember this:  From a young age, many of us are told to stand up for what we believe in and to be vocal if someone steps on our beliefs.  Unfortunately, what we aren’t told is when it’s appropriate to do this.  This leaks into RP and the internet in general as we try to figure out when its appropriate to be offended, when we should say something, when we should feel like someone has taken advantage of us, etc.

 

So, I ask, what you are doing to help keep these situations from happening?  Communication is a two-way street, and just because someone is calling you a bully doesn’t mean they’re 100% wrong, right?  I doubt that you mean to be a bully, just as I don’t mean to be a bully, but that doesn’t invalidate people’s interpretations on the situation.  Sometimes we have to realize that what we say can be interpreted in many ways.  I, for one, have started to pay better attention to what I’m saying and to realize that tone and intent can’t always be read through casual written conversation.  If I’m afraid that something isn’t going to come across right, I might outright tell them that it is my concern that I won’t be able to articulate my thoughts in a clear, inoffensive manner.

 

I am also aware that on my RP site, I can surround myself with people I like.  I can (and have, though very, very infrequently) remove people from my site who cry victim when, after an examination of evidence, I realize that they are not.

 

I wish it weren’t so that you have to protect yourself against “reverse bullies,” but it happens, and sometimes prevention is better than dealing with an unsavory situation.

 

Regardless, the topic got me thinking some, so thank you.

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1 hour ago, Uaithne said:

So, I ask, what you are doing to help keep these situations from happening?  Communication is a two-way street, and just because someone is calling you a bully doesn’t mean they’re 100% wrong, right?

 

The problem is you really can't figure out that these situations will happen all of the time. I'm an avid skyper (specially while I'm drunk mind you) because typing becomes difficult/impossible and most of the time I'm already on a skype call with someone else. I'm pretty transparent (at least I try to be) that I am kind of a terrible person when I am drunk or have an opinion. In fact what spurned this conversation is based on a conversation that was started on the phrase "I'm a terrible person". The person wanted to know more. I prefaced the conversation that they may not want to hear it and yet they insisted. When I got pushy/overbearing they went and told the admin I was harassing them about it. The admin didn't ask me any details, I was immediately wrong and that I should go to bed and "think about it".

 

To me it would have been less of a problem if everything was taken into consideration. The conversation (via skype) was spurned from the "I'm a terrible person" comment in the cBox. It was prefaced with the "are you sure, I don't think you're going to like this" and then I expressed my "terrible" opinion which, lets be honest, I knew this person wouldn't agree with but my drunk self didn't care, they went running to the admin and said that I was harassing them because I was louder than them on the skype call.

 

My prevention methods are I try to remember to only skype people that understand the difference between an opinion and what I expect of them. I can't say I stick to that because I love to chat, especially while drunk, but it's something that I try to work on. I have a list of people I try to chat to and I try not to chat outside of that circle. If I have something I really want to chat about that doesn't always work however that doesn't change that I do try and that what I say isn't like I expect someone to convert to what I say.

 

In the moment I'm going to care. At the end of the day, you live your life, I live mine.

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Hmmm this raises the question then about on-site and off-site bullying. Is bullying on your rp site different than someone who claims to be bullied on an off-site application like Skype, Discord, email, Facebook, etc. by someone else on your rp site? Do you approach bullying allegations the same in both situations? Or do you take action against one and not the other? 

 

For example, if you had been in the cbox during this whole conversation instead of Skype, would that change things from either a member or staff position? Or even on-site private messaging? Or because you'd moved it into a private voice/video chat that was off-site, what other problems does that present?

 

I realize because it was voice chatting and not text chatting that things will be different, and I know that bullying is bullying no matter how it happens, but I do think that the medium affects how we respond to it.

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I would say that what happens off site is not the admin's concern because it's unreasonable to expect admins to police everything, or to put it another way, where would the admin's responsibility to prevent/sort it out stop? If it happens on site then yes, admins do need to get to the bottom of it but it would be exhausting to follow up every lead. (I would say that if a member came to you with an accusation of bullying against another member, and it occurred on another platform or site, then I would keep an eye on the members involved and if there was evidence that bullying was occurring ON site, or if there was friction between the members, then I think an admin would have to step in but otherwise, you just have one person's word against another's and you don't have the jurisdiction to interfere with what happens off site - that's up to facebook, twitter, or what ever site it occurs on to sort out. (I'm not familiar with how harassment situations in skype work, as I don't use it.)

 

As for private messages which occur on site, then I think you do, as an admin, need to step in if it is brought to your attention - the bullying has occurred on your site, after all, and even though it's not public, I wouldn't want as admin for pms to be used in such a way.

 

Autism is a tricky one because unless you know someone in real life, you don't know if a person on the internet really has it or not. (And unfortunately, a lot of the drama I've seen occur on twitter is from people who say they are autistic.) From my own experience, I knew an autistic person at university. He was a very friendly guy and I had no problems with him at all. (I would never have got into Dungeons and Dragons or met many of my friends at uni if it wasn't for him starting up a society for comics, science fiction and fantasy.) Although occasionally he would misunderstand what I'd say (you have to be very clear with your language), there was never any disagreements between us. He was very high functioning and had worked hard so you wouldn't know that he had it unless he told you (or if he found himself in a situation which was really stressful, then it would come out.) What I've seen people who say they are autistic on the internet has been at odds with my real-life experience so I'm uncertain if someone really has it or not. I think the problem here is not knowing a person you've only met online well enough - I wouldn't want to dismiss someone for having a condition but I wouldn't want someone saying they have it (when they don't!) and making a forum uncomfortable for a lot of the members.    

 

People can learn from their experiences, though. If you find that getting drunk puts you at odds with others, if you're in a low or irritable mood, or if you find a conversation is making you uncomfortable, then taking a step back and doing something else, or chatting with people who don't mind you being drunk might stop these situations arising.

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You’re probably not going to like what I have to say, @Morrigan, but maybe it would be advisable to not drunk chat people with whom you aren’t completely comfortable.  You sound fairly level headed when you’re sober, but alcohol takes away the filter and makes it more challenging to regulate your actions.  Or, alternatively, you can say to them something more along the lines of, “I’ve been drinking and I can become very passionate and opinionated when I have alcohol,” before the conversation starts so that they’re very well aware.  From the example you provided us, you’re being too vague about it, so people think you’re just exaggerating your behavior.

 

@Sage, that’s a really good question.  It is my belief that the only thing the admin is 100% responsible for is the site itself, but there are times when it may be appropriate to address things that happen offsite.  It is, of course, up to the admin if they want to pursue it, but if there is definitive proof that somebody has been bullying one of my members over something that is reasonably related to the RP, I’ll still hold people accountable for it.  It may be on skype, but they’re still representing my game.

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@Icewolf @Uaithne

 

I want to make it clear it has nothing to do with my comfort whatsoever. I'm a very comfortable person around just about anyone, it is really rare for me to get uncomfortable personally. It's the person on the other end that misinterprets the loss of filter and the gain of ignorance, as harassment. This is not every person either. I chat with new people ALL of the time and some are fine and some are not. Those that get uncomfortable with me because I'm stubborn and brash (and more-so with alcohol) are. the ones I'm mentioning here. The information on the specific incident is not important, I'm not trying to exaggerate anything however I don't want to disclose the specific instance more than I have for the other persons anonymity.

 

That being said it's a give and take thing here. Because it's impossible to tell which a person the other person will be until they go crying to the admins about it however they don't tell me because I've already made them uncomfortable.

 

I'll be honest, I've made some of my best friends by finding a random person and saying "Do you want to voice chat" that is in my skype chat list. Most of the time when I've had a drink or am in the middle of it.

 

I do always give warning about my drinking and I make it very clear to people or at least I try to remember to. Even in the instance that I'm talking about I was clear at the beginning of the conversation, "I'm not sure you'll want to hear this because it's about subject XYZ, are you sure?" and they said yeah sure otherwise I wouldn't have continued at that point and just reiterated the single line of "Well then I'm just a terrible person" and moved onto a different conversation.

 

Trust me when I say I've reflected on the most recent version of this pretty thoroughly. That is how I recognized that it's happened to me before. I'm not saying I was in the right 100% but I also don't believe that the other person fairly accused me of something that they personally said it was okay to talk about just because they didn't like my opinion about it and that I wouldn't listen to them. Hell, if they didn't like what I said it's not like there isn't a disconnect button. I do say that this is a lesson learned about making sure I'm not going on a tirade about something that I may not have a popular opinion on (just gotta pray it doesn't somehow come up in casual conversation).

 

 

 

As for on-site versus off site enforcement. That is something that is up to the admin. Like here on the Initiative we don't enforce anything that we don't personally have control over (so if it's not on our site, not in our discord, not on our social networking accounts) we don't get involved. If the fight comes to our territory than we handle that part of the fight only.

 

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I get from Morrigan that she's fairly passionate about her opinions sober or not and fairly loud about them (absolutely nothing wrong with this). She prefaced this entire conversation with an explanation saying as much to this person and they still chose to engage her in the conversation. They didn't like what she said (I have a feeling she probably would've said them sober) during the conversation and ran crying foul.

 

Whether a person is sober or not doesn't give the other person the right to cry foul because they didn't like what she had to say. Three people in this entire world tell the truth, kids, old people and drunks. They didn't like her truth so tattled on her. A lot of people don't like the truth of a drunk person because of the reduction in inhibitors, which coincidentally makes people more creative and capable of problem solving far better than sober people. A lot of bar fights happen because of this. 

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I would absolutely have said it sober. However (like I said with my I'm not one hundred percent in the right thing), had I been sober I probably would have thought twice about actually telling this person what I had said being that sober I would have been more sensitive to their feelings about the subject as I know it was a sensitive one. I would have said it but I probably would have taken the time to listen to their side.

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@Morrigan, thanks for the clarification.  That makes much more sense now.  I agree that the person in question is in the wrong if he/she had been notified clearly up front about the topic but still tattled to the board administrator.

 

Sometimes some personalities “set themselves up” for this behavior against them, whether intentionally or not.  I’m in a similar boat, but for different reasons, and therefore I have had to learn to protect myself by being preventative and proactive about situations.  Sometimes it means toning myself down and having more control over my actions, and sometimes it means separating myself from people who feel that any contradiction to their beliefs and roleplay lifestyles warrants reporting or retaliation.  This is why I was prodding for more information about your experience and giving (possibly unwanted) advice.  Ultimately I’d probably approach the situation differently than you would, but to each his own.

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No worries @Uaithne We will approach each thing differently and that's what makes us awesome. I mean I'm sure I did things wrong but the whole situation was dealt with poorly in my opinion. There's more to it that upset me but it didn't have to do with skype but it was all cumulative to this particular conversation of note.

 

I have put myself into the mindset that I will check with my best friends first and if all else fails I'll chat on discord but random people that I barely know are set for sober conversations where possible. Drunk discord still happens here though so don't get me riled.  ☺️

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